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St. Andrew's church, with its octagonal lantern tower
Colyton shown within Devon
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||East Devon|
Colyton is a small town in Devon, England. It is located within the East Devon local authority area. It is 3 miles (4.8 km) from Seaton and 6 miles (9.7 km) away from Axminster. Its population in 1991 was 2,783, reducing to 2,105 at the 2011 Census. Colyton is a major part of the Coly Valley electoral ward. The ward population at the above census was 4,493.
Colyton first appeared as an ancient village around 700 AD and features in the Domesday Book as 'Culitone'. The third code of law of King Edmund I was issued at Colyton in about 945. This helped to stabilize feudal society, by stating clearly its four pillars: kingship, lordship, family, and neighbourhood. It grew into an important agricultural centre and market town with a corn mill, saw mill, iron foundry and an oak bark tannery that is still functioning. Situated 1/2 mile to the north of the village was Colcombe Castle, now demolished, a former seat of the Courtenay family, Earls of Devon.
A Saxon church occupied the site of St Andrew's church until replaced by the present Norman church in the 11th century. The 14th century octagonal lantern tower is said to have been used as a beacon for ships on the once navigable River Axe, to the east, although there is doubt that the tower may be seen at all from the river. The nearby vicarage dates from 1529.
Other notable features
Colyton Grammar School dates from 1546 and once occupied the part-medieval building now known as the Old Church House. In 1927 it moved to Colyford, a small town within the Colyton parish. The school has made headlines in recent years as the first school to 'opt out' of local authority control and gain grant-maintained status and for achieving very high rankings in national examination league tables.
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